This is a huge homestand, at the start of what will be an extremely tough month long stretch. After scratching out a very tough win against probably the best pitcher in the game right now last night, the Jays were in position to lock down a win in the first series of that stretch today. All they needed was to hit a crafty soft tossing starter and for Jose Berrios not to be too erratic. No reason to worry about either of those things happening, right?
Jose Berrios got off to a good start, working a 1-2-3 first inning against the fearsome combo of Ronald Acuna jr., Matt Olson, and Austin Riley. The second didn’t go quite as well, though. Eddie Rosario hit a one out infield single, and Marcell Ozuna launched a bomb into the left field bleachers to stake the Braves to a 2-0 lead. From that point forward, he wasn’t exactly smooth but he managed to work around some hard contact and three walks to post clean third, fourth and fifth innings. He got a massive assist from George Springer, who laid out to snag a Rosario liner for the third out of the fifth. If he’d missed it, Acuna and Riley would certainly have scored to make it a four run lead the Jays might not have overcome.
Meanwhile, it took the offence some time to figure out Bryce Elder. In spite of some well struck balls they didn’t manage a hit until Kevin Kiermaier doubled on a ground ball up the third base line in the third inning. They wouldn’t get a run on the board until the fourth, when Vladimir Guerrero jr. doubled (including the cool but totally unnecessary Pete Rose-esque superman slide above), advanced on a Matt Chapman single, and scored on a Whit Merrifield fielder’s choice ball. They struck again in the bottom of the fifth. Kiermaier laced his second double, and Bo Bichette brought him home on a line single to tie the game at 2.
Berrios came back for the sixth, and got a ground out and a fly out from Ozzie Albies and Ozuna, respectively. Michael Harris II reached on a soft grounder just under Merrifield’s glove, though, and John Schneider called for Yimi Garcia. An Orlando Arcia ground out ended the inning. Overall, Berrios wasn’t great but did enough. He struck out 3, walked 3, and allowed 6 hits in 5.2 innings.
The Jays could’t get anything going in the bottom of the sixth. Garcia came back for the top of the seventh, and as often happens when he’s involved this year things caught fire pretty quickly. Acuna singled to lead it off, and both Olson and Riley walked. Sean “The Good Doctor” Murphy hit a soft grounder that Vlad made a very good play to get to and throw Acuna out at the plate to get the first out without a run scoring, but the bases were loaded and Garcia was showing no indication of being able to fool anyone. Erik Swanson was called in to work out of the jam and did a great job, striking Rosario out and getting a harmless fly out from Albies.
Toronto finally took the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Kiermaier and Springer reached on back to back singles and executed a beautiful double steal to put men on second and third with one out. Bichette slapped a ground ball single through the left side to plate Kiermaier, and Guerrero hit a sac fly deep to right to bring in Springer’s insurance run.
Swanson walked Ozuna to open the eighth, but got Harris to fly out and got a grounder from Arcia that Chapman, Merrifield and Guerrero turned into a very slick 5-4-3 double play.
That was all it took. Merrifield walked, stole second, stole third, and scored on a Danny Jansen double in the bottom of the eighth to make it 5-2, and Jordan Romano dominated the top of the Braves lineup for an easy save with a pair of strikeouts.
Jays of the Day: Swanson (0.312), Bichette (0.211), Kiermaier (0.243), and Merrifield didn’t have the number but stealing three bases deserves a nod.
Disappointed Their Mothers: Garcia (-0.124), Varsho (-0.119)
Yusei Kikuchi (5-0, 3.35) will try to secure both the sweep and his undefeated streak tomorrow, squaring off against Colin McHugh (1-0, 3.38). First pitch is scheduled for 1:37pm ET.